4 months in Canada, eh?
Yes, we have spent 2 months in Ontario and 2 months in British Columbia. Visiting friends and family and having a Canadian summer. We had 2 days of rain in 4 months and days and nights that are a little cooler than we are used to. Occasionally being accused of being too soft as we sit wrapped up in sweaters when it’s 24C and accused of turning on the heat when it’s what Canadians call summer. If only Canadians knew better, ha-ha.
Despite the allure of Georgian Bay’s shoreline, the hospitality of family and despite the good weather we had, we left Ontario, in late June, headed to Victoria. A relatively quick and painless flight for 5 hours landed us at Victoria’s International Airport. Our friend, Sue, picked us up
and heading to town asked us what we thought had changed since the last time we were in Victoria. Took us a while to identify the change but Connie picked up on it right away – Marijuana dispensary stores scattered throughout the city taking advantage of the ever-increasing market for ‘medical’ marijuana. Who’s complaining? Certainly none of our friends who are mostly now in the ‘leisure activity set’ taking advantage of retirement time but needing help form a few friends to keep the muscles going and the mind alert (?).
One characteristic we have seen while on our return to Canada is the incredible diversity of its population. Granted some of the collages below were taken at special events celebrating different aspects of target populations but the diversity in the audiences was stunning.
Having travelled throughout the Pacific and Indian Oceans we have not seen this kind of mix of people anywhere. Sampled below is a collage of photos of people who now make up Canada. People have come from all over the world and this mix gives us great hopes for Canada’s future.
Everywhere we went we saw evidence of this diversity I really believe we as Canadians have an advantage over many other countries except perhaps Europe.
We spent about 2 months in Victoria moving from place to place house sitting for friends and acquaintances as they spent their time travelling or visiting friends. It meant moving around a lot but also gave us lots of time to relax on our own.
We didn’t sit for very long. Friends called up from San Francisco and said to come and visit. Hell, why not. So for a week we headed down to San Francisco and had a wonderful time visiting Marilyn and Leo.
Leo is our offshore weatherman and kite-boarder extraordinaire. Marilyn is an accomplished sail boarder and hard-working and committed business woman. We made time for enjoyment and best of all we had their daughter, Sammie, visiting from London, to play with.
Sad to leave but all things must come to an end so with a last glimpse of the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset we said good-bye but with promises to at least try our best to see each other within 12 months.
It seemed we never stopped striking off to do things and then end up eating our hearts out over dinner with friends. I hate to say it but I have to admit to putting on a few pounds over the 4 months spent in Canada. It didn’t seem to matter how active we were people were feeding us sumptuous meals. However we did try to at least get some exercise and take advantage of another great summer of warm weather.
Can never stay away from the water for very long. Tempted by the sunshine Sue, Connie and I headed out for a day of kayaking. Not far from the hustle and bustle of the marina around Sydney lie dozens of coves and islands to explore. Having all shoreline considered public lands one can hop from place to place, picnic on any nice beach, or just stretch ones legs when needed.
Then off to Port Angeles for a visit with Jim and Gail. Spent a week hanging out, going out to the west coast for dead bird counting, a short hike in the Olympic Mountains and, of course, gorging ourselves at the dining table.
And then there was a short hike in the Olympic Mountains.
Both of these places, high in the mountains and
down on the shores of the Straits of Juan de Fuca were spectacular in their own right. The Elwha River’s removed dam has resulted in a new alluvial fan building on the shoreline from the debris washing down. The salmon are now running up the river once again and is serving as a place of scientific study to see what impacts are of removing dams from rivers. I think in this case a resounding success.
Of course, summer is a time for festivals and one dear to my heart is the Classic Boat Festival. It happened a few days before our scheduled departure for South Africa. Again, all the familiar boat names were in evidence but a number of spectacularly new ones were in evidence.
And then there was the Moss Street Art Festival which was, as always, well attended.
And getting around Victoria was never much of a difficulty. I have my trusty bike in storage and apart from a flat tire due to standing for a few years it’s all ready to go. The bike also gets me out with Sierd on some of the trails that cover the island. And here Sierd made me work hard for my lunch.
Time to go though. The plane was waiting and the South African spring was calling.
What I would really rather be doing instead of travelling on a plane is sitting on the deck of a boat with the sun shining and a cool drink on hand!
But the trip back to spring in South Africa is fraught with more waiting but what better place to have to spend 24 hours for a connecting flight
Before I leave this post just want to say a big thank you to everyone who hosted during our visit back. Your hospitality was greatly appreciated and know that we thoroughly enjoyed having time to spend with special friends and family – Thank You
It was a perfect time to visit. Both May and June turned out their best with weather that was close to that of early winter season in South Africa. Temperatures ranged from a low of 12C to a high of 30C. The 30C was accompanied by the infamous Central Canadian humidity i.e. 80% but that was only for three days in May and 2 in June. The rest of the time the humidity dropped and the days were punctuated with crystal clear skies and trade wind style clouds. Who could complain?
So here is a little collection of photos from our Ontario sojourn
I know the picture above is a ruse. No we didn’t get snow but just thought I would chill your enthusiasm for sunny days with a photo of another photo to show the flip side of Ontario’s weather.
With prices in Ontario still reasonableit is hard to not look at a small cottage for retirement but I don’t think we’ll ever be able to handle their winters.
But then who can resist this bucolic scene. With sunshine and water flowing it’s hard not to be tempted by the thousands of streams flowing in all directions.
Yes, the Ontario country side is filled with cottages but in May/June there aren’t many people around.
Cottage country is also retirement country. With house prices in Toronto skyrocketing to unforeseen heights people are flocking to the towns a little further north. People are turning old barns into anything from pottery studios to Airbnb revenue generators.
One can cycle for 100s of miles along dedicated pathways throughout central north-western Ontario. Some are old railway tracks and others newly forged trails to attract adventurers.
Yes, urban areas are not free of Canadian wildlife. While sitting in the backyard of my brother and his wife’s home 2 wolves sauntered by salivating at their newly purchased puppy. Ummm, just another tasty urban morsel.
Yes, this one almost bit my bike tire.
And it’s the beginning of the flower season and the planting of crops to harvest in the fall. Everywhere the country explodes in new growth racing to take advantage of the warming weather and getting a head start on a short season.
And yes, it’s the season for festivals. They come in all sorts, colours and sizes. This was Salsa Blue at Blue Mountain with food, bands, drinks and crafts all free of charge
I dedicate this blog to those who recently died in the Orlando shooting. May they now be running wild and free.
I wrote the title of this blog thinking of a recent trip my brother and I did through Quebec and Ontario. I have two brothers, both older, who live in Ontario. I was torn to choose which brother to hit the road with.
Here, below, is a picture of my two brothers trying out the motorcyles to be driven.
Well the choice wasn’t too difficult as brother Richard is technically blind and a little incontinent (!) but very keen to head off even if he doesn’t have a driving licence.
So off Brian and I headed for a one week trip through eastern Ontario and on to Quebec City.
As Paul Theroux so aptly put it in the book Deep South nothing ‘has more excitement that the experience of rising early in the morning….and getting into my car (on my motorcycle) and driving away on a long, meandering trip through North America. Not much can beat it for a sense of freedom – no pat down, no passport, no airport muddle, just revving an engine and then “Eat my dust” ‘
So, off Brian and I headed into the sunrise. We didn’t have a long time, 6 days, so we tried to make the most of our time. We carefully checked the weather looking for possible rain showers in the next week. Yes, there was a likelihood of an occurrence on the 4th day – aaargh. That didn’t deter our enthusiasm. I did have some rain pants and made a stop at a Value Village to purchase a $20 leather jacket but we really were not equipped for a downpour.
East was the mantra. Let’s head east as far as these engines will take us in the time given. Avoiding the congestion of the expressways of northern Toronto we stayed north, skirting around the city and enjoying the smells of budding trees, the crystal clear skies of Canada, the clean air and the open road.
Our path on the first day took us just south of Ottawa. It was a convenient location to stop. My sister-in-law’s, Karen’s, home is in Chaffey’s Locks, and hour and a half drive south of Ottawa.
Getting an early start the next morning we continued through the country passing fields recently seeded for the summer season and headed for the border between Quebec and Ontario.
Motorcycle Route from Chaffey’s Locks to
The border between Quebec and Ontario is identified only by a sign in French indicating one is entering into Quebec. Although there is no other physical distinction between Quebec and Ontario this is definitely a cultural border.
In Quebec it’s illegal to have signs in English. Resorting to our limited French Brian and I made our way further east towards Quebec City. Skirting over the north end of Montreal through Mirabel, the location of Montreal’s international airport, we headed east to join the Chemin de Roy.
The Chemin du Roy, King’s Road, was requisitioned in 1706 and building started in 1731. It stretches 230km and at the time was the longest road in existence north of Mexico. The road joined together the numerous small settlements along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.
Today the road meanders along the shores of the St. Lawrence attracting tourists from around the world. We were there before the tourists came but it was a beautiful Saturday and the roads were crammed with Quebecois on their Harley Davidson’s. Somehow Quebecois(e) have embraced the H-D culture and they were out taking advantage of the weather to show off their leathers and H-Ds.
We go tired of having to wave to everyone on their bikes and by the end of the day were glad to pull into a small auberge on the banks of the St. Lawrence. Of course, the only other people staying there were Quebecois on their bikes. Every guest was a rider!
Being a very quiet time for tourists we were happy with the price ($80 for two) with breakfast. After a good nights sleep it was off to get a head start on the coming rain.
We meandered out onto the Chemin de Roy and within half an hour we ran across this site.
We has seen a small plume of smoke rising above the tree tops when we left the auberge but had expected a dump fire. Within 10 minutes we were on scene. There weren’t many people there and only 1 fire truck but no water. Soon the whole barn was up in flames and the sides of the silos were starting to pop from the heat inside and then they soon disappeared in flames. A shame the rain had not come earlier.
We stopped a while to watch but rain was on its way (40-50mm) and Quebec City was beckoning. However, the Chemin Du Roy is also where there are a lot of cheese making specialists. Knowing we would need to have a little cheese to go along with the late afternoon drinks we stopped at various cheesemakers taking samplings.
Ah, Quebec City on the horizon. Through the fort gates and into what must be the closest in North America to an old European style city.
The streets are wet, the tulips are coming to an end and the tourists are nowhere to be seen – a perfect time to stroll around and get our bearings.
The rain came, we hid in bars, museums and restaurants dodging the rain and then it was time to retreat to our abode. Morning came and to our surprise the rain subsided and we headed out to take advantage of the break. A walking tour of the old city, a good dinner and our plans to return had to be made. We were sad not to have had more time to get to the Gaspe but we had a good time.
We quickly made our way back west stopping for one night along the south shore of the St. Lawrence. The next day we made it back to Kingston and returned the Harley to the bike shop, Motosport Plus.
Leaving South Africa was wrenching. The lazy of days of soaking up southern hemisphere rays was coming to an end as travel plans that had been stewing for months were coming to fruition. Work slowed to a standstill as thoughts of packing a bag for a 4 month sojourn with the right clothes for a change in climate replaced thoughts of protea, gravel paths, sunshine and sandy beaches.
Soon it was time to leave the side-walks to the African beaded craft sellers and steal across the Kapesweg to the fast flowing highway traffic heading to down town Cape Town and the industrial suburbs close to the international airport.
Straddling the highway to the airport are the homes of thousands of South Africans spread out like a rag carpet in all directions. Myriad colours of shanties sparkle in the late afternoon South African sunlight providing a never-ending pallet to work the imagination. But, no matter how one views life in the townships it’s not paradise. Under the pallet lies the everyday reality of scrabbling for a living and an attempt to protect oneself and family from the elements.
The car speeds us by the townships whisking us into another world of international travel highlighted by fast food outlets, rigid seats, sparklingly clean floors, ever cleaned washrooms and line-ups.
People are patiently waiting for the call that beckons them to their aluminium-tubed reality changing machine. Meanwhile those flying in more luxury peer down from their all-inclusive lounges sipping champagne and nibbling on appetizers while the hordes rush from gate to gate to try to stay in line with their itineraries. It feels a little like the Hunger Games but the hordes are in the arena.
Finally the call comes and like sheep to be dipped we are sucked through the plane’s umbilical cord. Dreaded thoughts of having to sit for 12 hours in one place while this behemoth lifts off into the night sky and stumbles off across the deserts of Africa and across the Mediterranean to urban wilds of Amsterdam.
But what do we see of Amsterdam? Not a lot. Another airport terminal that looks like many of the others build these days. Palaces to consumerism with the same stores to be found at any airport around the world. The only breath of fresh air here are the myriad tulips for sale – bulbs, actual tulip flowers and plenty of picture post cards celebrating the spring tulip season throughout the Netherlands.
7 hours spent in the palace of consumerism moves one to want to get on with the last leg – a 7 hour flight to Toronto and an eastern Canada spring. People move back and forth from terminal to terminal, the flights come and go to all the possible exotic places in the world you can imagine.
The final boarding call is made and in I squeezes between the 3cm space between my knees and the seat in front, and that’s with the seat in front in the upright position. The food comes and goes, the blinds of the portlights shut out the light so people can watch the 4cm screen in front of them. I never understand why people don’t want to gaze out at the clouds and possible land sightings and dream about smoothly hovering over the earth’s surface as one wings westward.
Me? I’m seated in the centre of the plane anchored by a restraining belt (I’m a little unruly) to the seat beneath me and pinned by the seat in front of me which has been reclined to the max. The flight it smooth, uneventful and painful.
Finally the ears pop, the plane banks downward at an acceptable angle, the wheels pop out of the hold and the tarmac is kissed gently by all onboard. We’ve arrived after almost 40 hours of travel time. There’s only a 3 hour car trip ahead of us but the conversation with my brother is welcomed after the silence of the aircraft cabin where all and sundry are unplugged from the sights and sounds around them while they listen and/or watch the pabulum fed to all of us on our miniature screens.
Suddenly we are in North America and we disgorge….
The routing is obvious – tis the tulip season
Flying isn’t what it used to be. Hub cities, tiny seats, mediocre food and long waits in between flights makes the idea of sailing across oceans more appealing!
Some people have been making disparaging remarks about our gazebo, oops I mean our dodger. I think these remarks are simply expressions of envy.
The other day we decided to head out to the workshop and see how things were progressing. We always enjoy the drives we head out on around the Cape area. From Simons Town we have limited choices as to roads. There is the coast road which passes through communities with names such as Fish Hoek, Kalk Bay and Muizenberg and follows along the railway that makes its way into Cape Town
or it’s up and over the Kaapeseweg, 315m, a mountainous route that provides stunning views over both the South Atlantic and False Bay. There is a third route but only if you are heading to Hout Bay and into Cape Town but this route takes you over the Chapman Highway once of the most scenic drives in the world.
The coastal route is fraught with problems. It’s a two lane road that hugs the coast and which is presently being torn apart due to much-needed maintenance and replacement of the ancient water supply pipes. It’s stop and go and in several sections down to one lane of traffic. Long waits are the norm.
The Kapeseweg, although beautifully scenic, as is the coast road, is a long roundabout routing that at times can be clogged with traffic. Despite the negatives it is usually better to go over the Kapeseweg. So, waiting for the rush hour traffic to abate we headed over the Kapeseweg and onwards to Ottery a suburb of Cape Town.
Just a little detour here to describe the third route through Hout Bay. This route starts in Noordhoek on the south-west side of the peninsula a little ways from Simon’s Town. The road clings to the cliff along what is known as Chapman’s drive and the views are stunning. With a 20o metre drops off on one side in to the Atlantic and on the other the mountains rising straight above you. The winds are vicious and at times the road is closed but on those days you can drive along here one can never be disappointed. Definitely one of the most beautiful drives one can make.
Okay back on track to the workshop. We were excited about seeing the dodger and after travelling through a few suburbs, across major freeways, through fields of cabbage and tomatoes and weaving through a few industrial areas we finally came to the workshop.
Francois, a hands on manager and magician extraordinaire was keen to show us the recent work done. Not finished but getting very close. The insides and outsides had been glassed, the hi-build primer applied and much of the sanding of the hi-build completed in preparation for the application of the paint. Also the windows had been installed except for the centre one which will be an opening window to allow good flow through ventilation in the tropics
And here below, the day after our viewing is a picture of the first layer of applied final paint.
But what really intrigued me with the other projects Francois has on the go. Take a look at these photos and tell me you can’t be enthralled with some of the ideas Francois is moving to reality.
For legal issues these photos have been deleted
Back to reality. OK, so we are going away for a while and when we come back we expect to have to deal with the bottom of Sage which we expect will look like this.